While in year 10 at Hutt Valley High School in Lower Hutt, a group of Marc’s year 12 friends were involved in a drama production and asked Marc if he wanted to help out with the sound. Marc thought, “So you guys are going to let me hang out with you and get off class? I’m in!” That was the beginning of a passion for audio engineering and by the time year 12 came around Marc knew that he wanted to study audio engineering once his time at high school was over.
Marc looked into the industry and discovered that physics – a subject he’d never done – was essential for the job. So off to the head of science he went to try and sneak his way into the year 13 physics class.
“By the time I got to sixth form I knew that I was going to study audio engineering so I went and checked it out and tried to tailor my subjects around that. Physics was seen as a huge plus but that was a subject I never considered so I pretty much bribed my way into year 13 physics.
“On that note, try and get into physics and anything related with electronics as they are going to be to your benefit, perhaps even above any sort of music or performance because there is a lot of engineering stuff that is very technical.”
Since then, Marc has progressed to become a paid audio engineer and has had to put up with some raucous crowds and bizarre moments, to say the least. One really stands out in his head.
“A couple of years ago I was stage tech for a large music festival and the sound of this two-piece was so immense and the sheer volume of people in the tent was generating so much heat that the PA system was starting to overheat. So I literally spent from the second song of the set to the finish hanging off the back of a speaker set with towels of ice cooling the system.”
Amongst these days of festivals and sets, Marc often finds himself “pushing heavy boxes to a stage and then back again”, but there is the odd day where Marc gets lucky and mixes for international artists in a sold-out room.
Marc states that those are the best of days while he’s at work, especially when nothing goes wrong, as the chance of that happening isn’t all that high.
“A bad day is when everything that could go wrong does go wrong. Particularly with live sound, you get 45 minutes to get it right and if you can’t then that’s it, you’re out the door.”
It is because of this cut-throat and unpredictable nature of audio engineering that Marc lists patience, being good natured, chilled out, humble and having a good work ethic as key traits to hold if you are wanting to join the industry.
To this, Marc adds to just follow your dream. Being an audio engineer can take you to countries all over the world.
“Just be yourself. If getting rich and driving a Rolls Royce is what you want to do then this probably isn’t your industry, but if you’re passionate about it then go for gold. If you are serious about it, be really aware of the industry you’re getting into and its pitfalls and be prepared to get burned.
“While you’re under 30, be sure to make the most of those working visas in other countries. If you speak another language, go somewhere – anywhere there’s a large population, there’s going to be a PA company so go and work for them and get to see and do a lot of amazing things.”